With letting fees likely to be banned and signs of the sales market slowing, agents are facing increasing uncertainty in 2017. But in a world where little is certain, people still need to move home. And as the property ladder remains out of reach for so many, even more people still need to rent. What they rent and more importantly who they rent from is up for grabs - and that’s where staying competitive comes in.
We believe that one of the key ways to stay competitive is to make sure that you are offering a great digital experience. Here’s how to improve yours:
1/ Not on the high street
According to a recent HomeLet survey, 55% of tenants found their property on web giant Rightmove as opposed to the 15% using traditional high street agencies.  As you’re already aware, the enormous growth of online property portals goes a long way in proving that if you want to stay competitive you must strengthen your online presence!
Here’s how to go beyond the basics:
2/ Be responsive
Marketingland.com recently reported that mobile phone usage now represents 65% of all time spent on digital media with desktop now being relegated to ‘a secondary touch point device.’ 
Letting agencies that design content with only desktops in mind are missing out on acquiring potential leads. To meet their requirements, it is fundamental to invest in a responsive design which ensures that all users (regardless of device) can successfully navigate their way around your website. If your content looks great on all screen sizes, it helps to successfully convey your credibility as a brand. This should then lead to an increase in enquiries from tenants and landlords.
3/ User flow
Understanding your user flow is another key factor that will differentiate your website from your competitor’s. It is important to recognise why a potential visitor to your web page would interact with your site and how you are going meet their requirements.
After a user lands on a specific page, it is important to guide them through a clear path. For example, if you are looking to attract new landlords, then it is important to make the ‘Contact Us’ page the main hub of activity. Integrating signposts that lay out a clear call to action such as a ‘Find Out More’ button, will direct the user so they can best continue their journey.
Take this a step further and test out different coloured buttons as well as the layout of the page. Different combinations may provide you with some surprising results!
4/ The power of three
In 1908, American advertising pioneer, E. St. Elmo Lewis laid-out his three main advertising beliefs, which he felt were vital for effective advertising:
“The mission of an advertisement is to attract a reader, so that he will look at the advertisement and start to read it; then to interest him, so that he will continue to read it; then to convince him, so that when he has read it he will believe it. If an advertisement contains these three qualities of success, it is a successful advertisement.”
From leaflets to social media all visuals communicated by an agency should clearly state key marketing messages in a clear and cohesive way. Grouping any elements of the image into three creates a visual appeal and organises your content which helps to enhance the overall customer experience.
5/ Become a marketing maven
Much can differentiate an average letting agent from a successful one! One thing that can help make a difference is your approach to digital marketing.
Attracting a potential lead using standard forms of social media may be simple enough. We all know how to post a tweet but social has got a lot smarter and now the basics aren’t enough. In order to achieve those all-important conversions, your audience must be engaged enough to actively want to click through to your website.
Utilising paid applications such as Google AdWords ensures that the right type of user is directed to the right type of page. This is due to the level of personalisation that the software allows. As ads can be targeted by location and specific keywords, you will see that the quality of inbound leads to your site should increase.
A well thought out PPC campaign should result in a higher number of conversions. Provided that ads are linked to a well-presented landing page that features a strong call to action! (See Point 2)
Top Tip: Consider the opportunities for conversion throughout your sales funnel. Increasing the customer funnel at the start of any marketing campaign goes a long way in cementing your company as a credible brand that truly works to meet their customer's needs.
6/ Access all hours
The power of digital has bought along an expectation that we should be contactable 24/7. With fifty per cent of all visits to letting agents’ websites occurring out of hours, it’s clear that both tenants and landlords are increasingly expecting a round-the-clock service.